Rachel's Precaution Reporter #55

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006........Printer-friendly version
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Table of Contents...

Canadian Cancer Society Embraces Precautionary Principle
  "In the absence of 'hard science,' the [Canadian Cancer] Society
  promotes the precautionary principle, which recognizes the value of
  taking common sense steps to prevent harm to human health or the
Precaution Needed to Stop Spread of Genetic Contamination of Rice
  Illegal genetically-modified rice was recently discovered
  contaminating conventional rice in Europe and China. The contaminating
  gene may cause allergic reactions in some humans. Greenpeace warns
  that rice in the Philippines is in danger of similar genetic
  contamination unless precautionary action is taken.
Members of European Parliament Discuss How to Save Bluefin Tuna
  Approximately 50,000 tons of tuna are caught every year, while
  about 25,000 tons would be sustainable. All participants in the
  hearing agreed that a crisis was looming, and that urgent action was
  required. Even absent exact data, "the precautionary principle
  commands us to act," said a European Commission representative.
California May Create an Early Warning System for Toxic Chemicals
  The California legislature has passed a bill to create an "early
  warning system" by measuring toxic chemicals in the bodies of
  California residents. The bill now sits on Governor Schwarzenegger's
  desk, awaiting his signature or veto. "By monitoring, we can provide
  the kind of data we need to better understand links between chemical
  exposure and rates of disease, and communities that are
  disproportionately affected," said Janet Nudelman of the Breast Cancer
Precaution Activist Joins Mendocino County Planning Commission
  Britt Bailey, who successfully shepherded a precautionary principle
  ordinance through the legislative process in Mendocino County, has
  now been appointed to the County Planning Commission.


From: Canada Newswire, Sept. 12, 2006
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Inconclusive evidence suggests practical avoidance: Canadian Cancer
Society statement to Environmental Assessment Office on Tsawwassen
power line project

VANCOUVER, Sept. 12 -- The Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. [British
Columbia] and Yukon Division, has submitted a letter to the
Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and the B.C. Utilities
Commission (BCUC) to clarify its position on electric and magnetic
fields (EMF) and its possible link to cancer. The BCUC accepted public
input until September 8 on the Vancouver Island Transmission

Reinforcement Project running through the community of Tsawwassen to
Vancouver Island; the EAO is accepting comments until September 15,
2006. In July, the BCUC approved a plan to install overhead power
lines along a right-of-way through central Tsawwassen despite concerns
raised by residents over health and safety risks to children, posed by
the power lines' EMF [electro-magnet field].

Critics of the project have pointed to advice on EMF available on the
Canadian Cancer Society's website. "There is insufficient scientific
evidence to either rule out or confirm a definitive link between
exposure to EMF and childhood leukemia," says

Barbara Kaminsky, CEO for the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon
Division. "But we absolutely understand the public concern generated
by potential carcinogens, particularly where children are involved. We
recommend the EAO revise the transmission plan, if it is practical, in
relation to power line routes directly over private residential
property and school property."

The Canadian Cancer Society also suggests individuals limit their
exposure to EMF by taking precautionary actions, which include
limiting the amount of time children spend playing directly beneath
power lines, updating household wiring in an older home, and sitting
at arms length from a computer terminal.

"In many cases we don't know how cancer develops and we need more
information," says Kaminsky. "In the absence of 'hard science,' the
Society promotes the precautionary principle, which recognizes the
value of taking common sense steps to prevent harm to human health or
the environment."

The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is a provincial agency that
coordinates assessment of the impacts of major development proposals
in British Columbia.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization
of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the
quality of life of people living with cancer. In British Columbia and
the Yukon, the Society works with approximately 20,000 volunteers in
over 80 communities, funded nine new research grants in 2006/07 worth
more than $4.6 million, and recently established the Canadian Cancer
Society Research Chair in Primary Prevention at UBC. For more
information, visit www.cancer.ca, or call our toll-free, bilingual
Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

For further information: Media contact: Marcelo Dominguez,
Communications Officer, Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon
Division, T: (604) 675-7340, C: (778) 999-2592,

Copyright 2005 CNW Group Ltd.

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From: InfoShop News, Sept. 12, 2006
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At a press conference in Quezon City, Philippines, Greenpeace
International has revealed new information about the spread of genetic
contamination of the world's rice crops.

In recent weeks, illegal genetically-modified rice has been found
contaminating conventional rice in Germany, France, England and
China. Now scientists are expressing concern that the contaminating
gene may cause allergic reactions in some humans. Rice is a staple
crop for half of humanity -- some 3 billion people -- so very large
numbers of people could be exposed to a potential allergen if steps
are not taken to curb the spread of the rogue gene.

Recent Greenpeace tests reveal that illegal GE rice from the US has
contaminated products on supermarket shelves in Germany. The results
came a week after an earlier round of tests proved that illegal GE
rice from China, which poses a potential health risk, was found
present in rice products on European shelves(1). Greenpeace
International has notified authorities that illegal GE rice poses
health and environmental risks and called upon governments to take
immediate action to protect consumers.

"The illegal GE rice scandal, however, may not be limited to Europe.
In Southeast Asia rice is the staple diet. The Philippines is among
the countries most at risk because we import rice and rice products
from both the US and China," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE
campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

"Greenpeace is therefore calling on the government to protect Filipino
consumers by implementing strong measures to nip in the bud what may
turn out to be a similar case of serious contamination in our country.
These measures should include testing of rice and rice products, the
immediate recall of those found positive for contamination, and
demanding GE free certification for food from countries that grow and
produce GE crops," Ocampo added.

Many US and Chinese rice products which are available in Philippine
markets and supermarket shelves may be affected by contamination.
These products can range from rice noodles to breakfast cereals to
baby food. The country also imports sacks of rice from US and China,
and receives several tons of US surplus rice regularly under a food
aid program, PL-480.

The recent rice contamination in China began with field trials of GE
rice not currently approved for commercial growing because of mounting
concerns over its safety. The illegal GE rice, genetically engineered
to be resistant to insects, contains a protein or fused protein
(Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergic-like reactions in mice.
Three independent scientists with expertise in the field of GE and
health have issued a statement backing the health concerns raised by
Greenpeace International(2). Yet an investigation by Greenpeace in
2005 showed that research institutes and seed companies in China had
been illegally selling unapproved GE rice seeds to farmers(3).
Processed rice products found in supermarkets in France, UK and
Germany were revealed last week to have been contaminated with China's
illegal GE rice.

New test results by an independent laboratory released in a statement
yesterday by Greenpeace Germany have also confirmed the presence of
Bayer's Liberty Link rice in US parboiled long grain rice sold in a
major German supermarket chain which has 700 outlets throughout
France. Bayer's LL GE rice is not approved for food or cultivation
anywhere in the world except within the United States and Canada. In
addition, an experimental variety of LL GE rice, LL601, was found
recently to be contaminating US rice.

"These findings are shocking and should trigger high-level responses.
Consumers should not be left swallowing experimental GE rice that is
risky to their health and the environment," said Dr. Janet Cotter from
Greenpeace International's Science Unit. "Once illegal GE crops are in
the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is
easier to prevent contamination in the first place and stop any plans
to commercialize GE rice."

Ocampo concluded: "The Philippines, which is signatory to the
Cartagena Protocol on biosafety should moreover use the precautionary
principle by not importing GMO rice and rice products. The country
should also stop planting GMO rice, even in experimental plots, so
that contamination is halted at all levels."

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is
grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of
biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and
nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted
technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity
and poses unacceptable risks to health.

Notes to Editor

(1) All tests were conducted by an accredited and independent
laboratory. Details available in background briefing 'Illegal
experimental GE Rice from China: Now entering Europe's Food chain'.

(2) Scientists statement from Pr. Ian F.Pryme, Dept. of Biomedicine,
University of Bergen, Norway. Pr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, President du
Conseil Scientifique, du CRII GEN, Universite de Caen, France. Dr.
Christian Velot, Conseil Scientifique du CRII GEN, Institut de
Genetique et, Microbiologie, Universite Paris-Sud, France.

(3) Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been
contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz
rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hongkong. The Chinese
government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed
companies and destroyed illegally grown GE rice.

Copyright 2006 Infoshop News

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From: European Parliament, Sept. 13, 2006
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With bluefin tuna stocks falling in the Mediterranean, fishermen and
environmentalists are worried about the future of the species. A
public hearing by the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament
(EP) heard from scientific experts, environmental activists and
industry representatives about the situation in the region. All
parties agreed that urgent action was needed to stop illegal
overfishing and to find a way to return to sustainable levels of

The EP's Fisheries Committee held a public hearing today about the
current situation of bluefin tuna. This species lives on the two
coasts of the Atlantic, and has been traditionally exploited by
European fishermen. According to scientific experts present at the
hearing, France, Italy and Spain together make up 50% of world-wide
bluefin tuna catches, while around 80% of the Eastern Atlantic stock
is caught in the Mediterranean. Yet now the bluefin tuna is in danger.

The plight of bluefin tuna

In the past decade, the species has become a "high-value product due
to international Japanese demand" for sushi, according to Jean-Marc
Fromentin, an expert at the French institute for exploitation of the
sea (IFREMER). This has led to new technologies and fishing methods in
the Mediterranean, most prominently the practice of 'fattening' or
'fish farming'. This involves catching live fish at sea and rearing
the animals for several months in floating cages. Not only does this
increase their body weight (and therefore worth) but it also allows
for fresh catches anytime of the year, ending the limitation of
catches to the three-month fishing season.

Marta Crespo, from the Almadraba Fish Producers' Organisation,
explained that the more efficient farming methods cause bluefin tuna
prices to drop, leading fishermen to increase catches to make a
living, creating a "vicious cycle". The result is that "approximately
50,000 tons of tuna are caught every year, while about 25,000 tons
would be sustainable," according to Enrique Rodriguez Marin, an expert
at the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO). This also leads to
fraudulent underreporting, and other illegal fishing activities, which
were enumerated by Sergi Tudela, from the Spanish branch of the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Proposed solutions

All participants of the hearing agreed that a crisis was looming, and
that urgent action was required. Even absent exact data, "the
precautionary principle commands us to act," intoned a European
Commission representative. "We have the technology, what we need is
political will," added Ferran Bel, from the Spanish trap-net
fishermen's association.

Speakers and MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) had various
suggestions on how to address the problem of dwindling bluefin tuna
stocks. Antonio Roldan, the mayor of Conil de la Frontera (Spain)
argued for raising the minimum size limits of catches to 30kg. Ms.
Crespo advocated introducing age limits of catches, in addition to
size requirements. Struan Stevenson (EPP-ED, UK) called for closed
spawning areas, whereas Mr. Rodriguez said that fishing effort must be
limited. Elspeth Attwooll (ALDE, UK) asked about the creation of a
Mediterranean Regional Advisory Council (RAC) to negotiate limits, and
Heinz Kindermann (PES, DE) suggested raising fines for infractions.

The parties disagreed over many of the measures, because various
options would affect different types of vessels in diverse ways.
Inaction, however, was ruled out. "The overcapacity of fishing is the
problem," stated the Commission, and "a restructuration is

Copyright 2002-2005 Noticias

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From: San Jose Mercury News, Sept. 11, 2006
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Schwarzenegger Weighing Nation's First Statewide Biomonitoring Program

By Paul Rogers

Is there a connection between toxic chemicals and high rates of breast
cancer in the Bay Area? Do pesticides build up in the bodies of
Salinas farmworkers? Do people living near oil refineries in Martinez
or along freeways in San Jose absorb harmful levels of air pollution?

California may be on its way to finding out.

A bill that would set up the nation's first statewide program to
measure exposure to toxic chemicals by testing thousands of volunteers
has overcome industry opposition and reached the desk of Gov. Arnold

The bill, SB 1379, by state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, and Sen.
Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, would require the state Department of
Health Services to establish a program for residents who agree to have
their blood, urine and other body fluids tested for toxic chemicals
and other pollutants.

The program would be based on an increasingly popular science known as
"biomonitoring." It seeks to track hundreds of potentially harmful
contaminants -- such as lead, mercury, DDT, PCBs and flame retardants
-- and learn more about their health risks by measuring how much, and
in whom, they accumulate.

Simply because chemicals can be detected in humans doesn't necessarily
mean they are causing harm, scientists note. Virtually every American
is exposed to a wide variety of chemical products -- from fumes at gas
pumps to nail polish to garden fertilizer -- usually in small amounts
with little or no ill effects. But high levels of some toxins have
been linked to increased risks for cancer, birth defects, asthma and
developmental disabilities. And much remains unknown.

"We monitor the air, the water and land for chemical contaminants, but
we don't measure the chemical contaminants in people," said Janet
Nudelman, director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund, a
non-profit San Francisco group that focuses on environmental risks for
cancer. "By doing that, we can provide the kind of data we need to
better understand links between chemical exposure and rates of
disease, and communities that are disproportionately affected."

If Schwarzenegger signs the bill, the new law would set up a nine-
member panel of experts appointed by the governor and legislative
leaders to design a program.



** Senate Bill 1379 would set up the nation's first statewide program
to measure exposure to toxic chemicals by testing thousands of

** The program would track hundreds of potentially harmful
contaminants -- such as lead, mercury, DDT, PCBs and flame retardants
-- and learn more about their health risks by measuring how much, and
in whom, they accumulate.

** The state Department of Health Services would set up the program
for residents who agree to have their blood, urine and other body
fluids tested for toxic chemicals and other pollutants.


Voluntary subjects

Nudelman said she expects about 2,000 volunteers representing varying
ages, ethnicities and regions would be sought out first for testing to
compile statewide baseline information.

Afterward, specialized studies could be conducted. Examples include
measuring chemical levels in people living near the ports of Oakland
or Los Angeles, where ships and trucks emit high levels of soot.

Costs would total about $7 million a year, according to the Assembly
Appropriations Committee. Summaries of the findings -- but not
individual test results -- would be made public every two years,
starting in 2010.

For much of this year, the farm, oil, chemical and manufacturing
industries fought the bill after Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar
version in 2005.

The governor and industry critics had said it didn't include enough
scientific checks and balances, and risked misleading people by
overstating health risks from minuscule levels of exposure. But two
weeks ago, industry withdrew its opposition.

"If we are going to do this, we should do it thoughtfully,
professionally and scientifically," said Margaret Bruce, director of
environmental programs for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an
industry group in San Jose that dropped its opposition.

"The whole program was based around an activist perception of what
would be important, rather than a scientist's," she said. "A
biomonitoring program will give useful information if it gives
comparable, statistically valid data."

Schwarzenegger's staff negotiated changes with Perata and Ortiz. Those
improved the bill, Bruce said. One change required that the panel
organizing the program be made up of experts with backgrounds in
epidemiology, biostatistics, toxicology and other disciplines.

Similar efforts failed three years in a row after industry also
opposed the funding sources. First, the bill was to be paid for by a
cigarette tax, then fees on industry. Now the money would come from
the state general fund.

Re-election plays in

Nudelman, however, insisted that the changes were relatively minor.
She said the California Farm Bureau Federation, American Chemistry
Council, California Chamber of Commerce and others dropped opposition
because they realized Schwarzenegger has made environmentalism a key
part of his re-election campaign and is likely to sign the bill.

The bill is supported by the California Nurses Association, the
American Medical Association, large labor unions, and environmental
groups such as the Sierra Club.

Since 2000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has conducted
national biomonitoring studies. The last results in 2005 surveyed
2,200 people for 148 chemicals. The CDC found some chemicals such as
DDT, a pesticide banned in 1972, or pthalates, used to soften plastic,
are widely found in Americans. But it did not measure the health

Dr. Richard Jackson, former head of the CDC's National Center for
Environmental Health, supports California's bill. He recalled studying
pesticides and farmworkers for years.

"Over and over again the problem we were dealing with is that we
really didn't have any idea what people were exposed to," said
Jackson, now an adjunct professor at the University of California-
Berkeley. 'We had no way of measuring or knowing."

He predicted other states will copy California.

"Biomonitoring gives you a chance to do a snapshot and look at levels
across the state," Jackson said. "Do we have hot spots? Are there
people we should be looking at? Do our regulations work? Unless you
can measure it, you can't give people decent advice."

Contact Paul Rogers at progers@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5045.

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From: The Ukiah (Calif.) Daily Journal, Sept. 13, 2006
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By James Arens

Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax has nominated Gualala
environmentalist and community activist Britt Bailey to succeed
attorney Don Lipmanson as his appointed planning commissioner.

Bailey is an environmental policy teacher, the director of the
Environmental Commons, an eight-year member and former chairwoman of
the Gualala Municipal Advisory Council (GMAC) and coordinator of the
Mendocino Partnership for the Precautionary Principle.

Colfax has worked with Bailey in the past on various projects and said
he nominated her because of her commitment, ability and reputation.

"I think she has demonstrated her commitment to planning issues,"
Colfax said. "And she already has some experience working on coastal
development permits with GMAC to help assist the Planning Commission.
I also wanted to find someone wanting to make the commitment to spend
a couple of long days working on planning issues each month."

Lipmanson said Colfax has made a good decision for his replacement on
the Planning Commission.

"I can't think of a better choice," Lipmanson said in a written
statement." Britt brings intelligence, experience and commitment to a
demanding but immensely rewarding job."

Bailey, who will be appointed in January when Colfax begins his third
term on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, is looking forward
to the new challenges of being on the Mendocino County Planning

"I have been involved with the Gualala Municipal Advisory Council for
the past eight years, and Supervisor Colfax informed me about this
opening and I think the position will be very interesting," Bailey
said. "I am also involved with environmental policy and I've dealt
with coastal issues for a while and I am looking forward to dealing
with inland issues now as well."

The Mendocino County Planning Commission has seven members and all are
appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Timber and Agriculture hold two
seats, and each supervisor appoints a member, whose appointment is
subject to board ratification.

James Arens can be reached at udjja@pacific.net.

Copyright 2006 The Ukiah Daily Journal

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  Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
  examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
  action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
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  answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
  principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

  We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we  
  believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
  their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
  to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

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